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Caregivers of patients with cancer: anxiety, depression and distribution of dependency


Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, Via Venezia 8, 35131 Padua, Italy. E-mail:



Assisting a patient with cancer implies assuming a role that may fit in with the previous role of the person or that may contrast with it, thereby provoking suffering. This research explores if it is possible to identify different profiles of caregivers on the basis of different levels of anxiety and depression as well as on different ways of distributing one's own dependency.


There were 50 Italian primary caregivers of patients with cancer who completed the Beck Anxiety Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, and Kelly's Dependency Grids. Cluster analysis was conducted on the indices derived from the three instruments.


Three profiles were found on the basis of how the caregivers used their resources to give and to receive help. If there was congruence between the situation of giving help that the caregivers experienced and their personal role, then anxiety and depression decreased, otherwise, they increased. The implications of the balance/imbalance between the usual and the present role depended also on the typicality of the caregivers' experience, as related to their caring role.


These results suggest the usefulness of planning different kinds of support for different experiences of caregiving. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.